Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, and now things could get murkier as the U.S. braces for a legal battle with the company over its faulty airbags.

In the event Takata Corp. does not comply with the regulators' request to expand its recall of the faulty airbags, the Japanese company could embroil itself in a legal battle with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Earlier in December, Takata Corp. discarded NHTSA's request to increase the recall of replacing side airbag inflators for drivers of more than 8 million vehicles in areas of high humidity. Nearly four motorists in such areas have died due to the airbag mishap. Since 2008, automakers worldwide have recalled nearly 21 million cars owing to defective airbag inflators from Takata.

The NHTSA is reportedly working swiftly to sift through realms of documents from Takata Corp., as well as Honda and several other automakers to strengthen its case. Honda alone has recalled close to 14 million cars primarily in the U.S.

"This is a serious safety issue, and Takata needs to move forward," said David Friedman, NHTSA's deputy administrator. "If Takata fights us all the way to the end, I want to be able to walk into a courtroom with as close to a slam dunk as I can get."

Two senior insiders from Honda who did not want to be named have revealed that the company conducted tests on nearly 150 airbags from Takata Corp. in the first half of 2014.

"We doubted if Takata was producing air bags to the specifications we had mutually agreed on. When we did not receive a clear analysis of what was happening, we decided to conduct our own tests ... and we found the quality of those inflators to be all over the map in term of key quality metrics," revealed one of the Honda insiders.

Takata Corp. is holding its ground and challenges that a recall is the decision of the automakers. Moreover, even in the event it wasn't, the regulators do not have the necessary safety data to supplement their decision.

NHTSA, on its part, revealed at the Dec. 3 hearing that even though humidity was thought to be responsible for the malfunctioning of the airbags initially, it is not as responsible as thought previously. To supplement its claims, the NHTSA has taken on board an independent expert who will conduct additional tests on the airbags.

A spokesperson for Takata Corp. asserts that the company "is committed to working closely with NHTSA and the automakers to take all actions needed to promote public safety."

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